VEGA – Only Human

Here’s a band that with their last album Who We Are (2016) went from a shrug of my shoulders to a “can’t wait to hear their new album”. Not because I thought that Vega sucked before that album, it was because I had never heard them before even though I had read about them many, many times. Why I sometimes just can’t be bothered with certain bands is something I’m still not clear about but I guess there are just too many records released each month within different genres that you need that little extra something that tells you to go for it – in Vega’s case it took a reviewer’s link to make me aware of what I had missed. Vega’s music is hardly original – it’s Melodic Rock and AOR – but Vega have put an effort in updating those genres, making their music relevant for the 2000’s which in turn has given them a sound of their own, even though influences aren’t that hard to spot. But most importantly, that album contained good songs – damn good songs – which over-shadows the importance of originality by miles. So let’s see if Vega could convince once more, then.

Opener “Let’s Have Fun Tonight” is very much Vega recognizable. It’s an uptempo party-rocker in the Melodic Rock vein, not a far cry from the stuff that a band like H.E.A.T. usually provides us with. It’s clean-cut, in-your-face and a chorus that hits right where it should, catchy as hell. This must be a single at some point. Very good. First single “Worth Dying For” brings on some punchy hooks, a big 80’s groove and another one of those magnificent refrains that stays in your head forever – quite the obvious choice for a single. A damn good song! “Last Man Standing” is in the Melodic Rock folder but much more AOR-laden than its two predecessors, very smooth and silky and full-on inspired by mid 80’s Arena Rock – the Bon Jovi influence is all over the tune which is a good thing as Bon Jovi pretty much blows dog today! Again, the hit-potential here is endless and it’s another contender for a future single – brilliant stuff.

“Come Back Again” comes in a mid-pace and is total 80’s AOR, polished and slick and sounds like pure sunshine – stuff like this makes me smile big time. And let’s forget, this stuff is just as catchy as it gets. Wonderful. “All Over Now” is a bona fide stadium AOR rocker filled to the top with huge keyboards, just as huge vocals and a kicking rhythm section that builds a steady base for the tune. It’s very smooth and slick but the guitars are all there so no worries about that. It’s a very memorable tune and I can’t see any lover of AOR not to be seduced by it – very good. “Mess You Made” strolls along in mid tempo and the melody line is very slick. But for me, this tune is only real dip on this record. I don’t think it’s bad per se but it just doesn’t go anywhere and it’s easily forgotten. But Vega gets back on track with the brilliant title track. It’s also in mid-pace but it sports a killer groove and a punchy rhythm which marries brilliantly with the strong melodies and the spot-on refrain. Great!

The mid-tempo rocker “Standing Still” is another tune that has ‘single’ written all over it. It’s quite a punchy tune but the big melody arrangements are never far away and the keyboards and guitars are holding hands perfectly. But what makes it very hit-friendly is the big refrain that catches on immediately. Very good indeed. And there seems to be no stopping this hit-fest. “Gravity” is an uptempo rocker that goes right for the throat with enough hit-potential to make Desmond Child green with envy. But the power ballad then? Every Melodic Rock album must have one, right? With “Turning Pages” we get just that. It’s not slow, more mid-tempo and it’s quite muscular but also smooth and quite sticky. For all of us who loves an Arena Rock power ballad, this one fits like a glove. Very good. “Fade Away” is more guitar-driven Melodic Rock and it reminds me of Bryan Adams. A big groove and all the hooks in the world brings the tune home – great. Closing track “Go To War” is easily the heaviest track on the album, very kicking stuff. But we’re not talking Metal here – this tune has more in common with Bon Jovi around 1988, especially the chorus. In the late 80’s, this tune would have been all over the charts so it’s the perfect closer for an album like this.

This album is pretty much a sister album to its predecessor so if that album was up your alley, I can’t see any reason why this record shouldn’t be as well. As I wrote before, Vega’s intentions aren’t to reinvent the wheel by any means, they simply look to their influences for inspiration and then work this genre into their own style, because Vega do have brought their own identity to the table even though a band like H.E.A.T. is hard not to think about when Vega are being listened to – they work in the same backyard, so to speak. If Melodic Rock/AOR/Arena Rock makes you puke you had no business reading this review to begin with and this album won’t change your mind but if you do love these genres and haven’t heard Vega yet, it’s bloody well time to do so because otherwise you’ll be missing out on some damn good music. Because that’s what this album is made of – damn good music!

8/10

More Vega reviews:

Who We Are

Tracklist:

1. Let’s Have Fun Tonight
2. Worth Dying For
3. Last Man Standing
4. Come Back Again
5. All Over Now
6. Mess You Made
7. Only Human
8. Standing Still
9. Gravity
10. Turning Pages
11. Fade Away
12. Go To War

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